Wests Tigers came off the bottom of the NRL ladder with a shock 26-16 victory over North Queensland Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville.
And the Cowboys were left to lament the loss of superstar Johnathan Thurston, who came off the field with three minutes remaining with what looked like a serious leg injury.
In the first half the Tigers came out of the blocks strongly, scoring three tries in the first 16 minutes from Ava Seumanufagai (03m), Elijah Taylor and David Nofoaluma (16m), with Mitchell Moses converting the first for a 14-0 lead.
The Cowboys replied with a typically forceful try from Jason Taumalolo, with Thurston goaling, but the Tigers weren’t finished and hooker Matt McIlwrick exploited poor goal-line defence to score from dummy-half, with Moses adding the goal for a 20-6 interval lead.
The Cowboys came back into the game four minutes into the second half, when Coen Hess scored and Thurston converted.
And as the rest of the half resembled a comedy of errors, Hess scored again showing great strength from near the line, although Thurston missed the conversion and the deficit was now four points with five minutes remaining.
But with two minutes remaining bench player Jacob Liddle scored from dummy-half close to the line, and Moses’ conversion saw the Tigers secure the final margin of ten points.
Cowboys: 14 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Javid Bowen, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Gideon Gela-Mosby, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston, 8 Patrick Kaufusi, 9 Ben Hampton, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo; Interchange: 15 John Asiata, 16 Coen Hess, 17 Shaun Fensom, 21 Blake Leary
Tigers: 1 James Tedesco, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Jamal Idris, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Moses Suli, 6 Mitchell Moses, 7 Jack Littlejohn, 8 Aaron Woods (C), 9 Matt Mcilwrick, 10 Ava Seumanufagai, 11 Josh Aloiai, 12 Chris Lawrence, 13 Elijah Taylor; Interchange: 14 Tim Grant, 15 Sauaso Sue, 16 Michael Chee Kam, 17 Jacob Liddle.
A full review of all the weekend’s NRL action will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express